The majority of Texas emergency call centers now receive 911 calls from customers whose telephone service relies upon Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. In a recently released report, the Texas Commission on State Emergency Communications
(CSEC) provided a status of statewide efforts to provide 911 service to VoIP telephone subscribers.
VoIP is the term broadly used to describe telephone services that transmit voice communications over a digital data network using Internet protocol technology. Since VoIP telephony is increasingly being adopted by the public, it is critical that VoIP customers have access to emergency services through dialing 911.
In June 2005, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order requiring that companies providing interconnected VoIP telephone service also provide their customers with Enhanced 911, or "E911." E911 service means that a 911 call is routed to the correct answering point along with the caller's telephone number and location information, which greatly improves emergency response effectiveness. In Texas, E911 is almost universally available on traditional wireline and wireless phones.
Texas has deployed VoIP 911 service in the majority of the state's 544 answering points. Texas 911 entities formed a working group with industry to expedite deployment in response to the FCC's order. According to Paul Mallett, executive director of CSEC, the purpose of the group was to document the impact of VoIP telephony on 911 in Texas and to explore potential solutions to identified problems. "Our agency continues to facilitate and monitor VoIP 911 deployment in Texas to ensure that VoIP customers have access to 911 and emergency services," stated Mallett.
CSEC is a state agency charged by the Texas Legislature with oversight of 911 services in 224 of Texas' 254 counties. CSEC, in cooperation with the Texas Department of State Health Services, also oversees the Texas Poison Control Network that serves all Texas counties. CSEC's mission is to preserve and enhance public safety and health in Texas through reliable access to emergency telecommunications services. In accomplishing its mission, CSEC collaborates with regional and local governments and other state agencies to promote stewardship and accountability, set high standards, and foster efficient emergency telecommunications services.